Stealing From the Dining Hall: Is It Worth It?

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What we got when we searched "banana thief"

This is how stealing works, right?

Ever wonder how much you’re actually “sticking it to the man” when you grab a few extra supplies on your way out of the dining hall?  Maybe not, but we went ahead and investigated it for ourselves.  Read on to find out the extent of Bwog’s math skills as well as how much of your dining plan actually gets recovered when you surreptitiously snag from a dining hall.

Back of the Envelope Assumptions:

  • Each meal swipe costs around $10
  • A pound of bananas costs 25 cents from Target
  • A banana weighs 6 ounces
  • 500 forks cost $12 from Costco
  • 1200 cups cost $75 from Costco
  • $10 for 50 plates from Costco
  • There are 16 ounces in a pound

Preliminary Calcz:

  • One banana costs about (6 ounces per banana)*(1 pound per 16 ounces)*(25 cents per pound) = about 9 cents
  • One fork costs $12/500 = about 3 cents
  • One plate costs $10/50 = about 20 cents
  • One cup costs $75/1200 = about 6 cents

If you are…

  • A cautious thief, you might steal 1 banana, 3 forks, 2 plates, and 1 cup
    • You can earn back 1*$.09+3*$.03+2*$.2+1*$.06= $.64 = 64 cents
    • This is .64/10 = a measly 6% of the amount you spent on the meal.  You’ll have to do better than that.
  • A more daring thief, you might steal 3 bananas, 5 forks, 5 plates, 4 cups
    • You can earn back 3*$.09+5*$.03+5*$.2+4*$.06= $1.66
    • This is 1.66/10 = 16% of the amount you spent on your meal.
    • This isn’t too shabby, so you should feel pretty good about yourself.  If you’re feeling especially full of hubris one day, however, you might fit into the next category*.
  • A kleptomaniac, you might steal 5 bananas, 10 forks, 10 plates, and 7 cups
    • You can earn back 3*$.09+5*$.03+5*$.2+4*$.06= $3.77
    • This is 3.77/10 = 37% of the amount you spent on your meal.  That’s a little more than a third, so you should feel proud of yourself.
    • *Of course, you must remember what happens to a mortal with too much hubris…


  • FroSci taught us nothing.
  • You can’t really make a big dent in your dining fees without going a little overboard with the stealing.  We know we were super disappointed by the low numbers here.
  • If you feel good about regaining that 6% with your stolen banana, though, you keep doin’ you and pat yourself on the back.
  • Be stealthy, Columbia, and always look for new ways to stick it to the man!

This year’s Halloween costume via Shutterstock

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  1. Bystander  

    By God please do not steal bananas from the dining hall

  2. bananaJunkie  

    But i need more potassium

  3. oh honey...  

    bananas and forks? Try Parmesan, olive oil, balsamic vinegar

  4. anon  

    1 banana is a good time, 3 is a part and 5 is an orgy #love your self

  5. anon

    What about the Nutella?

  6. when will you learn bwog...  

    sunk costs .. everything you take is a profit...

  7. maybe instead...  

    steal a chair!

  8. Anonymous  

    Honestly, in an institution such as this, every little "fuck you, Columbia" counts.

    It's like a bourgeois version of The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner.

  9. Master thief  

    The trick is not to swipe in at all before stealing.

  10. Freshmen Friends  

    Get someone else to swipe you in and then steal all the bananas!!!! You'll earn back infinite% of the amount you spent on the meal.

  11. Target shopper

    You know that Target doesn't go by lbs for bananas right? They're 25 cents -each-.

  12. the diana  

    stealing 1 banana per visit?? weak

    one time i got 4 bananas, a kosher brownie, and a whole sleeve of bagels out of hewitt

  13. just do what i do  

    and take out the NEXT meal that you're going to eat. Then each meal costs you $5.

  14. On the minimum required Barnard meal plan  

    Every time I go to the dining hall I steal at least 6 pieces of fruit (normally none of which are bananas because they don't travel well and I don't want to indirectly fund terrorism in Colombia), normally wrap up half a sandwich to have as my next meal, and also try to grab cookies, bagels, whatever I can.
    This is actually completely necessary for me to afford to eat remotely like a human being. If they started cracking down I'm not sure what I would do.

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